If your father passes away, you’ll need to wait for the probate process to conclude before receiving the inheritance that was bequeathed to you in his will. And if you’re the executor of your father’s estate, there’s a lot more than waiting, which you’ll need to do as you actively navigate the probate process on behalf of your father’s estate.
That being said, there may be some assets that pass to your father’s beneficiaries directly, without needing to wait for probate to conclude. In fact, many estate planners make it their mission to pursue various “probate-avoidance” strategies. Some of these strategies require the assistance of an estate planning attorney, but not all of them.
Here are two simple ways to avoid probate for some of your assets:
Joint ownership: By signing over part of your assets, high-value possessions and bank or investment accounts to a joint owner, you can avoid the probate process for these assets. When you pass away, the surviving joint owner of your assets will receive full ownership after presenting proof of your passing.
Beneficiary designations: You may be surprised to discover that some of your assets will already pass over to a designated beneficiary. Many financial accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s have a beneficiary designation that determines who will receive the assets when you die. These assets will not be subject to the probate process.
Of course, there are many other strategies you can employ so that your family does not have to wait to receive your assets — namely, trust planning. Through a creatively planned and lawful trust, you can pass on wealth to family members quickly, effectively and confidentially after you’re gone. There may be other benefits associated with a trust, like protection from creditors and the ability to reduce tax liabilities.
What probate-avoidance strategies do you have in place for your assets? You may want to learn more about wills, trusts, joint ownership and beneficiary designations before finalizing your estate plans so that your family can potentially benefit from bypassing the often lengthy and costly probate process after you pass away.